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13/14 Match Reports

2nd November
Ninfield United II 0 v 7 Eastbourne Rangers
Josh Kyte 24'
Mike Pickard 43'
Ben Jesson 56'
Julain Waters 60'
Dan Harmer 68', 72, 83'(p)

After last weeks impressive draw against Wadhurst United, rangers travelled to bottom of the league Ninfield United II. Rangers were looking to build on some excellent recent performances and results which had seen the triple champions lose just one of their last four games, that defeat being against runaway leaders Little Chelsea. Although Ninfield were propping up the league it was important that the red and blacks did not take the game for granted as anything but a win in this game would have been deemed as a travesty.

Martin Bell was looking to secure his first ever competitive clean sheet in a rangers shirt and tasked to help him in his quest was full backs Ricky Curran and Rob Anderson. Skipper Dave Bennett-Tomlin was partnered by the returning Mike Pickard who didn't feature against Wadhurst due to squad rotation. With Dan Chapman unavailable, his brother Lee was partnered in centre midfield by another player returning to the squad in the form of Jules Waters while the management team elected to stick by the two wingers that served them so well seven days previous with Josh Kyte and Chris Ward getting the nod on the left and right wings respectively. With top goalscorer Glen Noble nursing a slight injury, this made way for Connor Sullivan to stake a claim for a regular spot along side Ben Jesson up front. The rangers bench consisted of vice skipper Dan Harmer, Mark Hymans and Noble.

Primed and fully briefed, the rangers starting XI were hoping to get off to a good start in what were blustery conditions. The opening 20 minutes were fairly even although rangers certainly looked to have more about them from an attacking aspect of the game. Kyte in particular saw a lot of the ball on the left while on the right Ward found himself in acres of space on numerous occasions but the ball simply was not being switched well enough, if at all. Defensively rangers looked in control with Ninfield's main threat their pacey left winger, but with Anderson nipping in to steal the ball on many occasions, this was usually enough to see off the danger.

Rangers took the lead on 24 minutes. A Waters corner was cleared to the edge of the Ninfield area where Kyte brought the ball down in a flash. The little man then unleashed a ravishing drive from 20 yards, which took a little nick on the way through, leaving the keeper with no chance. 1-0 rangers.

The goal settled rangers down into a better rhythm allowing them to play some better, controlled football from the back. Ninfield's lack of mobility up front saw Pickard and Bennett-Tomlin only troubled when they got caught too close to the home strikers, allowing them to use their strength on the turn. But their lack of pace meant rangers could easily recover. Rangers were looking to capitalise on their growing dominance and nearly doubled there lead seven minutes before the interval. Jesson broke the the home sides back line but the recovering defender made Jesson check back. With the keeper off his line, Jesson chipped the ball towards goal only for the keeper to pull off a excellent save to keep the score at 1-0. Two minutes before half time the Ninfield number one couldn't stop Mike Pickards towering header at the back post after a quick Waters free kick caught the Ninfield back line napping. 2-0 rangers, perfect timing just before half time.

During the break the management team we're pleased with their sides efforts but called for the ball to be switched a lot more (and sooner) especially to the despairing Ward who found himself unused in acres of space on numerous occasions on the right wing.

As the second half got underway, what can only be described as a DELUGE from the heavens above for around 10 minutes tempted the referee to abandon the game. With rangers 2-0 to the good and seemingly cruising, this would have been a harsh call. Fortunately, after getting everyone suitably drenched, the adverse weather subsided to allow rangers to push on and attempt to claim victory.

On 56 minutes rangers all but secured maximum points when Jesson was on hand to tap in from 6 yards after the keeper had parried a long ranged effort from Kyte. This goal saw Jesson join Noble as the joint top scorer on four goals for the season. Rangers now had the freedom to relax and knock the ball around seemingly at will particularly down the flanks where Ward was now seeing slightly more of the ball which saw him link well with full back Anderson very regularly. Moments after rangers third, Jesson should have turned provider after he burst clear. After rounding the keeper, Jesson found himself at a tight angle and elected to shoot which saw the ball rebound off the woodwork when perhaps a pass to strike partner Sullivan was the better option.

With an hour on the clock, Jesson made amends when his quickly taken corner found Waters loitering on the edge of the United area. Taking a touch to get the ball out of his feet Waters fired a shot goalwards. His goal bound effort took a slight deflection on route towards the goal leaving the home keeper clutching at air as the ball whistled into the net. 4-0 rangers.

This saw the management team ring the changes with Hymans replacing Curran at full back while Harmer replaced Chapman in centre midfield. With conditions now favouring football as a whole, rangers continued to look composed in almost everything they did. The rangers back four were rarely troubled with Anderson continuing to marshall United's main threat down the rangers right hand side. Anderson was also proving to be an effective attacking option when rangers were in possession and it was no surprise that his jinking run set up rangers fifth goal of the afternoon. After getting to the byline Anderson had the piece of mind to look up, and pick out substitute Harmer who applied the finishing touch from five yards - an immediate impact from rangers most experienced player. 5-0

United were now dead and buried and this could be seen throughout their team, with only their right back looking remotely interested in trying to get his team on the scoresheet. However, defensively he had Kyte to contend with who gave the full back a torrid afternoon. Seven minutes after his first goal of the game, Harmer doubled his tally for the afternoon. After some neat passing football Jesson broke down the Ninfield right. After getting to the byline he cut the ball back to an onrushing Ward who selflessly dummied the ball, with Harmer supplying the finish into the roof of the Ninfield net. A superb team goal, 6-0 rangers.

With seven minutes remaining, rangers were awarded a penalty after Sullivan was up-ended in the Ninfield area, much to the disgust of the home keeper who accused the rangers man of diving. With two of rangers usual penalty takers on the pitch in Jesson and Waters, the calls were for Harmer to step up in an attempt to claim a hatrick. After a long delay, with the keeper having a stern talking to from the referee, Harmer stepped up and fired the ball into the side netting of the Ninfield goal leaving the keeper with no chance. What an impact bearing in mind Harmer entered the fray in centre midfield. And queue Klinsman style celebrations from the rangers veteran. 7-0 and that was that....

This was an excellent rangers display and the team is clearly on the up. The spirit and banter in the changing room before and after the game suggests the team believes in one another - and so they should. This spirit was typified when MOM Rob Anderson wanted to donate the award to hatrick hero Harmer. Some would say it's harsh for Harmer not to get he award after claiming a hatrick (and becoming joint top scorer on four goals with Jesson and Noble) but with Anderson and Kyte exceptional for the full 90 minutes it's only right that one of those two should get the award. MOM - Rob Anderson.

This win sees rangers jump five places to fourth making the league table much more pleasing on the eye. Having played more games than other teams in the league helps but points on the board and games in the bank are crucial in what will certainly be a weather interrupted season. Next week rangers take on rivals Herstmonceux who controversially beat rangers 3-1 in early September at the sports park. With the forecast looking grim for the 48 hours leading up to the game, we can only hope the game gets the go ahead at Lime Cross next week as the red and blacks look to increase their run of good form.

Line Up (4-4-2)

GK Martin Bell
RB Rob Anderson - MOM
LB Ricky Curran (Mark Hymans 63')
CB Mike Pickard
CB Dave Bennett-Tomlin (c)
CM Julian Waters
CM Lee Chapman (Dan Harmer 65')
RW Christian Ward
LW Josh Kyte
F Ben Jesson
F Connor Sullivan
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